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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Movie Review - Black Mass

Black Mass (2015)
Starring Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Rory Cochrane, Jesse Plemons, Dakota Johnson, Kevin Bacon, Peter Sarsgaard, David Harbour, Adam Scott, Julianne Nicholson, and Corey Stall
Directed by Scott Cooper

With an impressive cast, Black Mass is a solid mob pic that's impressively shot, but lacks a real riveting storyline.  That isn't to say that Black Mass is particularly boring, but it didn't quite lure me in as much as I wanted despite very good above- and below-the-line aspects.

Johnny Depp tackles the lead role in this true story as James "Whitey" Bulger, brother to state senator Billy (Benedict Cumberbatch) and also one of South Boston's nastiest and violent criminals from the 1970s through the 1990s.  Not only a crime boss, Whitey ends up being "recruited" by FBI agent (and childhood friend) John Connelly (Joel Edgerton) to be an informant, spilling beans on other crime gangs throughout Boston.  As the film details a variety of Whitey's crimes, we also witness his ability to twist things in his favor, most evident by the coercing of Agent Connelly into allowing crimes to be committed with the agent's knowledge.  This manipulation (to which Connelly knowingly acquiesces) makes up some of the best aspects of the film.

Much has been made of Johnny Depp's performance which finally brings the actor back to a serious role after many years of comedy, action, or Tim Burton-esque weirdness.  The praise is warranted with Depp pretty darn scary as the headstrong, violent, and downright nasty Bulger.  He's matched by a solid supporting cast none of which give a bad performance, but none of which can really hold a candle to the admittedly electric charisma Depp has onscreen even behind his character's somewhat harrowing make-up job.

While good, Black Mass never quite reaches levels of greatness.  There's a been there-done that quality that make the film feel not quite as unique as I'd have liked.  Director Scott Cooper does a solid job here, but the film feels as if it meanders a bit in the middle and its conclusion involving the uncovering of some of Agent Connelly's actions doesn't quite land as satisfyingly as expected.  Overall, it's a bit rote and by-the-book, and while that isn't necessarily a bad thing, it just doesn't get me overly excited about the piece as a whole.

The RyMickey Rating:  B-

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